Your Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Is Fake

Did you know that the Mob makes money hand over fist by selling you fake olive oil? Olive oil is a $1.5 billion industry in the United States alone. According to Tom Mueller, an intrepid journalist who wrote a scandalously revealing book on the subject, 70% of the extra virgin olive oil sold is adulterated — cut with cheaper oils. Apparently, the mob’s been at it so long, that even most so-called “experts” can’t tell a real olive oil from a fake olive oil based on taste alone.

If you were a producer of one of these fake oils, 2008 was a bad year for you. That’s the year that more than 400 Italian police officers conducted a lengthy investigation dubbed “Operation Golden Oil” which led to the arrest of 23 people and the confiscation of 85 farms. It was quickly followed up by another investigation in which more than 40 additional people were arrested for for adding chlorophyll to sunflower and soybean oil and selling it as extra virgin olive oil, both in Italy and abroad.

The prevalence of these and other similar raids actually prompted the Australian government’s standards agency to allow olive oil brands to voluntarily submit their oils for lab tests. These authentication tests allow oils to be certified pure “extra-virgin olive oil.” Thus far in 2012, every imported brand of extra-virgin olive oil has failed the test to gain certification!

Last year, researchers at UC Davis tested 124 different samples from eight major brands of extra-virgin olive oil. More than seventy percent of the imported oils failed.

After reading these news stories last year, I was utterly intrigued when Tom Mueller’s tell all book finally came out. It took me months to get around to reading it, but when I did I couldn’t put the page-turner down. And the evidence? The evidence is damning.

In Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, Mr. Mueller exposes the inner workings of the olive oil industry, which has fallen prey to hi-tech, industry-wide fraud.

Authentic extra-virgin olive oil, he says, takes a lot of time, expense, and labor to make. On the flip side, it’s quick, cheap, and easy to doctor it.

The most common form of adulteration comes from mixing extra virgin olive oil with cheaper, lower-grade oils. Sometimes, it’s an oil from an altogether different source — like canola oil or colza oil. Other times, they blend extra virgin olive oil with a poorer quality olive oil. The blended oil is then chemically deodorized, colored, and possibly even flavored and sold as “extra-virgin” oil to a producer. In other words, if you find a major brand name olive oil is fake, it probably isn’t the brand’s fault. Rather, it’s their supplier’s.

Mueller’s book is deeply engaging, reading like a typical suspense novel or crime drama rather than a news story. His engrossing way with words sucks you in from page one and doesn’t let you go until you reach the back cover.

If you want the full, gripping, true story behind the olive oil racketeering, I highly recommend you buy and read Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.

How can you tell if your oil’s fake?

Unfortunately, you can’t simply go by taste alone. Journalist Alex Renton shares this story:

I conducted a blind tasting of extra virgin olive oils a few years ago for a national newspaper that wanted “the truth on expensive olive oil”.

We had a dozen oils, and a panel consisting of an importer, an Italian deli owner and a couple of eminent foodies: the results were so embarrassing and confusing the piece was never published. The importer went into a fugue after he was informed that he’d pronounced his own premium product “disgusting”; the deli owner chose a bottle of highly dubious “Italian extra virgin” as his favourite (it had cost £1.99 at the discount store TK Maxx); and both the foodies gave a thumbs-up to Unilever’s much-derided Bertolli brand.

(Bertolli’s scurrilous reputation among olive oil brands came from their intimate involvement with selling fraudulent olive oils.)

So, if you can’t go by taste alone, how can you tell?

First, extra-virgin olive oil ought to be comprised of mostly monounsaturated fat that grows more solid when cold. If you put a real extra-virgin olive oil in the refrigerator, it ought to become thick and cloudy as it cools completely (some oils made from high-wax olive varieties will even solidify). It should be noted, however, that this is not a fail-proof test. That’s because adulterated oils may also become thick and cloudy in the refrigerator. After all, some adulterated extra-virgin olive oils are cut with low-grade, refined olive oil. Those would still clump up. Other adulterated extra-virgin olive oils are cut with just enough of the cheaper oils that they’ll still be mostly olive oil, so they’ll have some clumping, too. If, however, the oil you put in the fridge fails to thicken at all (still appearing as clear and runny as it did at room temperature), then you know something certain: that it’s fake!

Second, extra-virgin olive oil ought to be flammable enough to keep an oil lamp burning. Again, this isn’t a fail-proof test, and for the same reasons. But, it is certain that if your so-called “extra virgin olive oil” doesn’t keep a wick burning, it isn’t extra-virgin at all, but instead contains refined oils.

Since no completely fail-proof test exists, here’s what I do to know I’m getting a good oil: I know my farmer. He’s not a mobster; he’s a friend. And his farm has been growing and producing high-quality, fully authentic olive oils for more than a hundred years.

Artisan and locally-produced olive oils (the variety you can find from domestic small family farms) have always passed every single test of authenticity. So, buy locally. Buy from a farmer you can get to know and trust, and you’ll be set.

Where to Find Real Olive Oil

If you don’t have any local olive growers near you, then I personally vouch for the online olive oil supplier found here. This olive oil comes from a single family’s olive orchard in Greece and is hands-down the BEST olive oil I’ve ever tasted.

Even better, save 10% on your order with coupon code RENEGADE.

Karl, the man behind bringing Olea Estates olive oil to the U.S., was even so generous as to give Food Renegade readers a 10% discount on all olive oil. Just use coupon code RENEGADE at checkout to save 10% on all your orders!

(Click here to save 10% on real olive oil using coupon code RENEGADE.)

Researchers at UC Davis find problems again with purity of imported olive oil
Deborah Bogle and Tom Mueller “Losing our Virginity” The Advertiser May 12, 2012 Pg 11-14.
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

Since writing this post, I’ve decided that the last section on how to know if your olive oil is fake or not needed clarifying. I thought I was clear in demonstrating that the “tests” were not definitive and that you should buy from a farmer you know and trust, but too many commenters kept saying they’d tested their olive oil and it turned out to be real (or that they’d “tested” the oil from a local farm and it turned out to be fake). When really, none of these folks had done laboratory testing, and they weren’t taking into account all the ways that the so-called “tests” like the fridge test or the oil lamp test could mislead you. So, if you want a more detailed look at these tests (as well as a hearty affirmation that you really, *really* need to KNOW YOUR FARMER), read: How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake.

(photo by LexnGer)


    • Halim Spahi says

      When my father in law came to the states, and we introduced him to our versions of the extra virgin olive oil, like philipo berrio and other brands, he looked at me cockeyed, and said this is no first press olive oil by far, he said its not pure olive oil, and not tha same as back home….When i had found a bottle of an extra virgin brand from Greece (forgot brand), and Spain (tendre), he was like thats more like it…We currently use costco kirkland brand which is pricier, but def worth it!

      • Filip Buloshi says

        yes i trust the kirkland brand as well… costco puts a lot of money into the production of those products (and saves money by not marketing it).

        • says

          I am trying to find out if Kirkland extra virgin olive oil is unrefined. Most articles discuss taste, calories, purity. But is it unrefined which means it has all the health properties?

    • Jim Macey says

      From the blog: “In other words, if you find a major brand name olive oil is fake, it probably isn’t the brand’s fault. Rather, it’s their supplier’s.” This is pure, unadulterated poppycock: ALL major marketers have a representative on site at a supplier, to watch over quality control, use of agreed-upon ingredients, and use of manufacturing methods and processes. They absolutely know and approve.

      • Beth says

        I live near an olive mill too called Queen Creek Olive Mill. Superior oils and vinegar which they also sell online.

        • Jenn says

          I live about 3 miles from Queen Creek Olive Mill and LOVE LOVE LOVE their olive oils and vinegars. I can’t afford to buy it every time because I use a lot of olive oil but I always have some on hand. Super YUMMY

        • Jennifer K says

          Ooooh… I love Queen Creek Olive Oil, Vinegars, and Olives. Awesome and knowledgeable people to talk to as well!

  1. Caralien Speth via Facebook says

    That has been the case with Italian olive oils for awhile (a decade or more, with seemingly annual studies by UC Davis). Try Californian or Greek olive oils instead–they’re tastier.

    • KristenM says

      Unfortunately, according to Mueller’s book, COUNTRY OF ORIGIN doesn’t matter. The scandal isn’t just limited to Italy. There’ve been arrests in Spain, Greece, the entire Mediterranean, really.There are small-scale producers in Italy doing things right, just like there are producers here in the U.S. doing things right.

  2. April Miles Thornton via Facebook says

    What if it’s certified organic? Can it still be fake olive oil? I’ve been buying Mario organic olive oil for years…

    • kelly says

      organic only means pesticides and fertilizers aren’t used. it doesn’t guarantee authenticity for anything. it also doesn’t mean “healthy”.

  3. Celia Ozereko via Facebook says

    I’m concerned that the study was done by a CA olive oil producer. I get that this is a big problem, but I do think there are good producers out there–even imported ones. Right now I like a Chilean olive oil that seems pretty well-reputed and certified by several organizations. I read somewhere–possibly Mueller’s site?–about some precautions you can take when looking for good brands. May not be perfect, but right now I don’t live near olive orchards so I do what I can.

  4. Wendy Colpetzer McCullough via Facebook says

    I rarely use olive oil these days. My fat of choice is animal variety. Good info to know, though. Thanks for the great post.

    • Carol Harris says

      I know right?… I use butter, and will be making my own shortly out of raw, grass fed, organic, local cows milk and goats milk. I buy local honey that is straight from the honey comb. it is so hard to find REAL Organic anything. Population control, that is what it is!

  5. Stephanie Renee Peña via Facebook says

    I can say that this company makes real olive oil! I used to live near them as of last year. You can visit their olive farm and see where they make the oil..all in the same place. No importing, or fakes.

    • mark says

      From UC Davis report…

      Found to be accurately labeled as Extra-Virgin:
      Kirkland Organic
      Corto Olive
      California Olive Ranch
      McEvoy Ranch Organic

      • val says

        Do you have any idea if Bragg’s extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is good? I sent them an email asking them and they said it was but you know how people can lie or be uninformed. Bragg’s is so good with all of their products.

        • dbetts` says

          I called Bragg and had a lengthy discussion with the back-office, just last week (Jan2014).

          Explaining my concern over trusting suppliers and getting assurance of quality, purity, etc… I was told that they have a person 100% dedicated to EVOO, with no other duties, besides EVOO product. This person makes regular trips to Greece and knows the people in the process from the olive trees to the glass bottles, and is personally assuring Bragg quality is maintained.
          Since I can’t make the trips to Greece myself, I am glad that Bragg does is for me!
          At this point, I’m willing to trust Bragg, since they have been such a great vendor for me in my years of health-oriented food efforts.

  6. says

    Wow. This is enlightening. I’m so glad there’s a California olive oil producer at my local farmers market. I’m definitely going to get to know them now.

  7. says

    April Miles Thornton — I wouldn’t trust that certification alone on an imported oil. If it’s a domestic brand from a reputable small family farm, and it’s sold in niche outlets like Williams-Sonoma or the like, chances are decent that it’s the real deal.

  8. says

    Celia Ozereko — Well, that’s just one study. There have been others done by countries around the world. I agree that there are good quality producers of imported oils, but they’re usually sourced from individual farms or co-ops — not a major brand.

    • Kristicarmen says

      Can’t tell if this is sarcasm or not, but I would put Costco and any other price conscious brand down as almost certainly fake. I figure real olive oil is going to cost real money. Consumers desire for unreasonably cheap goods is a huge part of the problem as well. Producers in any market have to be paid fairly to produce superior goods. We can’t seem to have it both ways. I have noticed the price of EEVO go steadily down over the years…. For that reaon this story doesn’t surprise me, but it really saddens me. We have to support the producers who do the right thing by buying their higher priced, but superior (real, in this case!) product.

      • Ronda says

        Actually, I’d put more faith in Costco than in anything on a standard grocery store shelf. To be clear, I do *not* buy food at Costco (nor chain grocery stores either), but I know a little bit about how they do business. Costco does not want to be associated with any off brands and they actually have higher quality control standards than grocery chains. You do not pull a fast one on Costco (or Walmart) and expect to stay in business.

        For example, there was survey done of dog foods claiming to have some level of glucosamine and chondroitin (suggested to benefit joints). Most every brand, from fancy & expensive to cheap Alpo types had either none or just trace amounts of the supplements (there’s no regulation over this sort of thing in dog food). Costco brand was actually one of only a two or three that had the amount considered to be effective.

        That’s not to say I think Costco sells quality, but I wouldn’t dismiss them just because it’s Costco. And yes, people need to understand that you have to pay for quality. And that great olive oil is something you use sparingly as a condiment, not something for frying everything you eat in.

        • Steve says

          I agree that bigger chains like Costco and Walmart have enormous power in the market and it is not that easy to cheat them and get away with that. They have resources to catch dishonest suppliers. Smaller chains do not have those resources available to them and have to go by their supplier’s words, so to speak.

      • Cory says

        When I read through the report last year, I got the impression Kirkland Organic EVOO was, surprisingly, one of the decent ones.

        • Jenn says

          I’m with Ronda on Costco being very conscious of their product quality, however I don’t believe this is totally true in food cases. Their honey IS one of the ones that has had most of the pollen removed. And they don’t care about that. They also have shelves FULL of GMO foods & highly processed & junk foods, so I don’t put anything food wise past them or any other grocery store. Sorry… I’m still suspicious, and as much as I love Costco & shop there weekly, I’ll continue doing my research on what foods they & others sell. This is SO frustrating. What we need is someone to give us a list of what brands ARE real olive oil.

  9. says

    What about olive oils labeled as “USDA Organic”? Do they go through stricter regulations or is that olive oil just as likely to be adulterated?

    • KristenM says

      I wouldn’t trust in the certification alone. If it was certified organic AND from a domestic producer AND from a small, family farm, then I’d think it’s a good bet even if I didn’t personally know the farmer.

  10. Jamison Pollitt via Facebook says

    if it’s not about $20 an ounce, it probably doesn’t have any olive oil in it

  11. Peg Danek via Facebook says

    I heard about this last year on Americs’s Test Kitchen. I’ve switched over to pastured butter and palm oil for cooking. I still need a good olive oil for salad dressings. Right now I’m using Newman’s Own organic. It tastes pretty good but I haven’t investigated its background yet. Being in New England there aren’t any local producers.

  12. says

    Christopher Dutton & Holly Delahaye — Tom Mueller, the author of the book, says that to his knowledge Costco is the best large retailer at sourcing quality oils. He specifically mentioned that their Kirkland Signature brand is a reputable, good oil.

    • says

      That is kind of surprising.

      I wish the Kirkland olive oil was sold in glass bottles, not plastic. That’s one reason I haven’t purchased it before.

      I love Trader Joe’s Spanish EVOO. It has fabulous taste and is reasonably priced. It’s been my fave for 3+ years. I’d be pretty heartbroken if it was fake.

      • says

        I wrote to Trader Joe’s about their olive oil and this was their reply which satisfies me:

        Hello Cynthia,

        Thank you for contacting us, and we do truly appreciate your interest in our Trader Joe’s olive oil products. We want to assure you that at Trader Joe’s we work very closely with our suppliers to assure that we are receiving only the highest quality products, and that our suppliers are meeting 100 percent of their claims (as stated on the product labeling).

        Every bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Trader Joe’s is from the first crush first press of the current crop. Our Olive Oil Buyer personally selects every olive oil blend on our shelves. She travels to Italy, Spain, Greece and Australia’s olive groves during the harvest season, meeting suppliers and taking part in the process of putting together each of our high quality olive oils. This is an integral part of how we buy our olive oil. By being involved at this level we can ensure the quality of our Olive Oils.

        In addition, we subject our olive oils to testing by an independent lab to ensure that their level of acidity equals that of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as Determined by the International Olive Oil Council Standards. Plus, We also do our own testing on a quarterly basis.

        At Trader Joe’s we require FDA regulated GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program of our vendors. HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards. In addition, our Quality Assurance Team audits our vendors on random and scheduled visits to monitor their facilities and practices on an ongoing basis.

        We believe that quality along with price is essential to the value of our products and we got to extreme measures to make sure we are bringing you the best of both.

        We hope this information adequately addresses your concerns, and we do appreciate you allowing us the opportunity to address this matter with you directly. We also thank you for shopping with us at Trader Joe’s.


        Trader Joe’s
        Customer Relations

        • KristenM says

          Hmmm. Having read Mueller’s book, I find absolutely NOTHING in that statement to be reassuring. Instead, it waves a lot of red flags. I’m not saying their olive oil is fake, but I do know that I’d still prefer to source oil from an individual farm or co-op rather than Trader Joe’s given what they just wrote.

          • OliveChirper says

            I agree with Kristen M. Additionally, Mr. Mueller recently did a taste test of 6 TJ’s brand (supposed) EVOOs:

            Three of the six he rejected outright as blatantly defective; one he said was “tired” (ie, degraded to the point of barely passing minimum threshold of the low-ball International Olive Commission’s “extra virgin” standard) and yet the label the claimed it would still be good for two more years. As Mr. Mueller commented, “This oil is already mature. There is NO WAY it will be good 2 years from now.”

            Mr. Mueller did not happen to test the TJ Spanish oil. The fact that it’s sold in clear glass (allowing ultraviolet light to pass through and initiate peroxidation of the oil) and has a plastic lid (permeable to oxygen) are bad signs for the oil, even if what was put into the bottle initially was of good quality.

        • KimW says

          I have some President’s Reserve EVOO (product of Italy)I bought at Trader Joe’s that’s been refrigerated for days. It has thickened some but still very pourable with some of it looking as thin as before refrigeration. Not sure what to think now.

        • Denise Peterson says

          I’ve known for quite some time that the only two oils in Trader Joe’s that are truly extra virgin are their Kalamata Greek and their California oil. You know just by tasting. If you’re at all familiar with taste defects in olive oil (rancid, musty, fusty, muddy, etc.), you can easily detect one or more of these defects in ALL of their other oils. It’s hard to believe a retailer with such a positive reputation as TJ’s would sell such awful product. They are throwing away the opportunity to be a leader in selling quality olive oil, but they are failing miserably, asuming their customers are just as clueless as they appear to be. This was all confirmed by Tom Mueller just a few weeks ago by his tasting panel:

      • says

        Kirkland brand can be good, but unfortunately, it often sits on shelves too long and becomes rancid. I test commercially sold olive oils a lot and have found hardly any that are not rancid or adulterated. The shame of this is that great flavor is lost, but so are the wonderful and amazing health benefits of evoo. Short of going to the cost of having your olive oil lab tested (not practical), be sure to buy from a purveyor who knows the producers they buy from, is very knowledgeable about olive oil and turns over their product quickly. Beware of some of the stores that only sell bulk olive oil unless they can tell you who the producer is, when the olives were harvested and, at least, what the acidity level is.

        • halcyon says

          That’s the Spanish Organic, which is different than the one a lot of people have mentioned liking.

          • says

            Usually I don’t like these kind of articles, just scare us…but thanks for the test: I put my olive oil (philipo Berio) in the fridge and the next morning it was all cloudy and solid, so I guess it is true olive oil, as I also put a bottle of rapseed oil in the fridge that remained liquid.
            Yours concerned,

  13. Louise M Dutton via Facebook says

    We have it on good authority that Costco’s Kirkland brand of EVOO is probably the only REAL olive oil made with Tuscan olives available in the US (that we know of). All the others are crap so this is all we use.

  14. says

    Freshness & chemical integrity are the 2 most important factors to know about when buying an extra virgin olive oil. EVOO does not get better with age, so only buy the freshest available and in a quantity that you will use quickly.

  15. says

    Peg Danek — They’re actually a really good store as far as sourcing organics and other foodie goodies. As much as I would love to have a Trader Joe’s near me, their olive oil almost always fails the refrigerator test from what I hear.

  16. Karen Tintle Cook via Facebook says

    good to know, Louise! Sheesh, isn’t any food what it says it is anymore?

  17. Celia Ozereko via Facebook says

    Oh, undoubtedly (re: your comment to me). I just saw that one study and thought “hmmmm”. I actually avoid most Italian oils now because of the problems, and have a hard time trusting any large suppliers. I really enjoyed Mueller’s book! The food industry is pretty screwed up when we have things like that being such a big problem. It’s olive oil, for goodness’ sake! Anyhow, I put that book on par with things like Tomatoland for making me paranoid about anything for which I don’t know the source.

  18. Karly Casey via Facebook says

    This is not new… it’s been going on for hundreds of years! There isn’t enough supply for the demand.

  19. says

    Here’s what I don’t get isn’t this what the FSMA was supposed to “protect us from” where are the raids with full assault teams and confiscating entire store warehouse and letting it spoil. It seems that is only reserved for small raw dairy farmers and fermenting food co-ops and cheese makers Since I can go to my local gas station and buy adulterated olive oil and FDA doesn’t seem to care.

  20. says

    Celia Ozereko — ALSO: I didn’t mention this since you read Mueller’s book, but I’m posting it for those who haven’t. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN doesn’t matter. The scandal isn’t just limited to Italy. There’ve been arrests in Spain, Greece, the entire Mediterranean, really.There are small-scale producers in Italy doing things right, just like there are producers here in the U.S. doing things right.

  21. says

    Karly Casey – Very true! It’s one of the things Mueller mentions in his book. But the problem has gotten worse as technology’s gotten better. It’s because we have labs now that can make fake oil taste almost as good (if not better) than the real thing.

  22. Julie Drassinower via Facebook says

    Re: Costco Kirkland EVOO..I believe it is just the organic one that he talks about.

  23. says

    Eric Walters — Well, the deal is, this olive oil is still seen as “safe”. It’s unethical and fraudulent, but it isn’t actually harming most of us. The FDA views raw milk as truly dangerous. That’s their official stance. So, they justify their actions by saying it’s for public health & safety.

  24. Jessica Check Jensen via Facebook says

    Does anybody know anything about California Olive Ranch? It’s tasty and easy enough for me to pick up at a few grocery stores in my area.

    • says

      I definitely wouldn’t choose corn oil for a replacement; most corn used for that purpose is genetically modified, which isn’t safe for people, animals, or the environment. Soy, canola, and cottonseed oil are all likely modified, too, unless you’re buying organic.

      I season my cast iron with an organic vegetable shortening (non-hydrogenated). It works fine for this purpose.

    • kelly says

      wow that’s one of the WORST things you could use. NO vegetable oils are good. stick to evoo, coconut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil…

  25. says

    corn oil sucks, you should dump it! Coconut oil rocks! (I use it to cook food, season cast iron, eat them by spoonful, use it as sunscreen etc!) As for EVOO: Try this one sold by Kasandrinos Imports Lots of my friends says this is the best olive oil!

  26. Allison Joi Burgueno via Facebook says

    California olive oil ranch is real. So are some other locals. You should be able to tell from tasting. Fake oil does taste fake if you’ve ever actually tasted the right stuff.

  27. Granny Good-Food via Facebook says

    I use Costco EVOO, Texas Olive Oil from Bella Vista Ranch and Texas Olive Ranch (farmer’s mkt in Austin). The Bella Vista EVOO is the best I’ve ever tasted. They also make a soap that is absolutely luxurious. Visit the ranch, near Wimberley, TX and you can taste wine and hear the (almost) complete history of olive oil for a mere $15 (was only $6 when we went a few years ago).

    • Kathy says

      I have tested the Texas Olive Ranch oil in the refrigerator … Sorry to report it didn’t solidify. I’ve had this book on my reading list for the longest! Sounds like I need to bump it up in the queue.

      • KristenM says

        Oh that’s odd. I’ve bought their oil and tested it before (last year), and it did fine. I left it in there for several days before finally taking it out to use it, though. Is it possible you just didn’t have it in the fridge long enough?

        • Kathy says

          I was really shocked too! I tried one bottle in Feb of this year, left it in for a week. I was really disappointed. I tried a few other brands as well and all of them failed. Spectrum was one of the others.

          • KristenM says

            Well, now I’m inclined to call them and ask them if they sell any winterized oil. That’s basically when they filter the waxy solids out by cooling the oil and removing the solids. I didn’t think you could do that and still call it “extra-virgin,” but maybe I’m wrong.

            If so, it means that the olive oil can still be a pure olive oil, but it’s had the stearates (a saturated fat that ought to make up about 5% of an extra-virgin olive oil) removed. That’s still really disappointing, as that changes the fat profile of the oil to one leaning more heavily on the PUFAs and less on the mono-unsaturated and saturated fats.

            • Kathy says

              Would love to hear what you find out. I live in Central Texas too and had really hoped for the best.

  28. says

    Old news….soapmakers knew this 5 years ago. Suddenly olive oil prices soared, and formulations weren’t giving the usual results. That was because different oils need different amounts of lye to saponify, and adulterating olive oil changes the overall superfat of a soap. Bad news, but there are reputable sources available. I am lucky to live near one of the best.

  29. Rita says

    I bought 2 gallons from Chaffin Family Orchards in Calif. We lived in the North Woods and I stored it in a freezing basement. It never solidified, even a little. Even the California sources may be corrupt.

    • Kim says

      I have had the same thing happen with my bottles of Chaffin not solidifying. I wonder where it’s pressed at? On the farm? With stones?

      • Michelle says

        After reading this article I was thinking about buying from Chaffin. Can someone else comment on this? Or know anything more?

        • says

          Rita, you bring up a valid point. I’ve long been advocating that the fridge test is completely invalid. I can assure the oil is the real deal. The fruit never comes from anywhere but our own farm, which is pretty rare for olive oil brands even the small artisinal ones when you do some investigating. The following article talks about why refrigerating oil is a poor test. It reveals nothing of the health benefits. We have our olive oil nutritionally analyzed every year and we always recieve stellar marks. The olive oil also does well in competitions. This year both of our varietals received gold medals at the world’s biggest international extra virgin olive oil competition. I can testify that beyond cold pressing of the olives to extract the oil we do no further processing, winterizing, washing, or filtering of our extra virgin olive oil. No substitutes or additives are EVER mixed in with our olive oil. It’s 100% extra virgin olive oil completely from our own olives. I assure you it’s as real as it gets!

          • KristenM says

            I don’t think that link dispels the fridge test completely, only the kind of fridge test that says that the oil must turn completely solid in the fridge to be “extra-virgin.” He says that turning solid is a result of the natural waxes on the olive, and that some oils are winterized to remove the waxes and stearates. (I’m also confused on this point, because I thought an “extra-virgin” oil couldn’t be winterized.) He also says that “Oil that has not been winterized will clump and form needle-like crystals at refrigerator temperatures as the longer chain fats and waxes in the oil congeal, but the oil will not usually harden completely unless chilled further.” In other words, he says that if it hasn’t been winterized it will still thicken up — just not turn solid. Since your oil hasn’t been winterized, I think it has to be the olives. Your variety must be naturally less waxy and have fewer stearates.

            Also, I’ve now had 3 gallons of Chaffin olive oil, and all of them have turned semi-solid in the fridge. So, I wonder if the people who say that Chaffin isn’t getting solid for them are actually wanting it to turn into a solid clump rather than just be a little more viscous.

            • says

              I got my bottle from Wilderness Family Naturals after following the link on your site. I left my TJs bottle in the fridge for comparison and found that while the TJs clumped (and eventually turned solid after getting pushed to the back of the fridge), there isn’t a single speck in the WFN bottle after being in the fridge for two days, and it appears to still flow pretty well. I bought the WFN bottle because I saw the TJs was not solidifying (at first), but it looks like that if this were a blind test, the TJs would actually have “won” over the WFN. Both bottles had been opened and poured out of before being placed in the fridge if that matters at all. I am sure the WFN is a good product, but I was wondering if you’d done the fridge test on it yourself. I was wondering if you could explain the reason behind WFN not clumping- maybe the winterization or wax or whatever.

  30. Dawn Turpin Walsh via Facebook says

    Geesh! It’s getting so discouraging to try to eat healthy. It feels like we are just paying more just to get shafted, all the while thinking we are doing something good for our families & bodies. Honestly it makes me just want to give up :(

  31. Laurie Cohen Peters via Facebook says

    Food Renegade, first thank you for posting. Second, if it’s cut or made with canola from Italy but labeled organic, can it still contain GMOs in your opinion…from tracking gmo standards in Italy, I can’t find gmo canola, do you know if this is also an issue as I have been consuming supposed high-quality organic olive oil from my co-op or WF for decades and have been tireless in my attempt to avoid GMOs…thus this presents a whole other quandary to consider–would love your thoughts on this. ty

    • KristenM says

      Hi Adrienne,

      If you’ve got an ad blocker running, or have javascript disabled, you won’t be able to see the ads. You must first disable your ad blocker or enable javascript for the page.

      Hope that helps!
      ~Kristen (AKA FoodRenegade)

  32. Olga Harris via Facebook says

    I had to give up having olive oil about a year ago – with soy & corn allergy, I was reacting even to “extra virgin” olive oil. Needless to say i knew what was happening right away. Good learn that somebody is actually trying to do something about it!!!!

  33. says

    Another question this raises is all the “healthy oil claims” made for olive oil for all these years. Were the people who did the research using honest-to-goodness olive oil? Or were they just buying stuff from a store too?

    • KristenM says

      I thought of that, too. I don’t know the answer. What I do know from reading Mueller’s book is that a lot of the reason they are so good at faking olive oil these days is technology. We can now “create” an adulterated or even pseudo olive oil in a lab that passes some of the easier authentication tests — build it with a similar fatty acid profile, color, scent, and taste. That way the fake oils can STILL BE CERTIFIED AS REAL by whatever lax certification standard they’re using. It’s only with extensive laboratory testing that you can actually determine if it’s real or fake!

  34. Barbara Ebers via Facebook says

    I discovered this awhile back and was so disappointed. It made sense though as the flavor never” matched up.” My new diet excludes oils and I am glad. They are not nutrient dense…

  35. Norine Forrest Robinson via Facebook says

    Both bottles that I have read: INGREDIENTS Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Who knows and how?

  36. Norine Forrest Robinson via Facebook says

    Both bottles that I have read: INGREDIENTS Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Who knows and how?

  37. Haji Warf via Facebook says

    I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to buy locally produced olive oil. In fact, we have several small producers here. However, the company from whom I buy often also produces award-winning wines, so I get to sit on their covered patio, sipping my cab while looking out at their olive trees, hehe.

  38. says

    Thank you, Food Renegade, for such an insightful article. Thrilled to read posts like yours that help educate folks on the industry. Like you, we encourage folks to read labels thoroughly, look for harvest and best by dates, and know how your oil was produced, and exactly where it comes from. Thank you for your respected efforts! Keep up the great work!

  39. Naomi Giuliano via Facebook says

    I think EVOO is over-rated anyway. I’d rather use butter, ghee or coconut oil to cook with. Now more than ever! ;-D

  40. Simon Palczynski via Facebook says

    The only thing I don’t understand is that the manufacturer doesn’t have to say on the ingredients label that other oils were used…?

  41. says

    I put my Kirkland (Costco) branded Extra Virgin Olive oil in the frige last night. It looks just as clear sitting in the frige today as it did sitting on the counter. It’s not cloudy at all. A 100% fail.

    • Jessica O'Keefe says

      You know that the fridge test doesn’t always work, and it definitely doesn’t disprove an olive oil. Also, you might let it sit in there longer. My Bragg olive oil didn’t solidify for a few days when I left it in the fridge!

  42. says

    Well, I have to say that each season we receive a few bottles of olive oil by friends. They look you straight in the eye and forbid you to cook with that oil. It’ s ONLY for tasting, on salads, etc. This olive oil comes from the olives of their groves, is pressed by them and bottled by them.

    There is NO COMPARISON between the taste of that ‘liquid gold’ versus commercially purchased extra virgin olive oil. It does not even come close.

  43. Kirstian says

    I read the UC davis study on Crunch Betty. I think Costco’s brand of olive oil was real olives, which is what I buy. I was kinda shocked as some of those that were not real. Its a big deal for us because we have food allergies in our home.

  44. Bonny Shilton via Facebook says

    Here’s what website says: “Found to have be fraudulently labeled as Extra-Virgin:
    Whole Foods
    Rachel Ray
    Newman’s Own
    Filippo Berio

    “Found to be accurately labeled as Extra-Virgin:
    Kirkland Organic
    Corto Olive
    California Olive Ranch
    McEvoy Ranch Organic”

  45. Bonny Shilton via Facebook says

    My Whole Foods olive oil did NOT become thick and cloudy after I put it in the ‘frig 6 1/2 hours ago. So apparently that test supports the allegation above that it is not olive oil! I’m returning it.

  46. says

    Simon Palczynski — Of course they have to label it. It’s the law. The big issue here is that THEY DON’T KNOW. In almost all cases, they buy their oil from distributors who promise it’s 100% extra-virgin olive oil. The fraud is usually at the level before the distributors, with the various organized crime families creating or adulterating fake olive oil to sell to distributors.

  47. Dolores Smith says

    Why do you have a picture of Dauro extra virgin olive oil on your website insinuating it is a fake. It is produced by one of Spain’s best producers that has won the best delicate olive oil in Spain 5 times since 2005 and used at the Nobel Prize Award Banquet 6 times since 2006. You are far from the truth…have you seen a chemical analysis for this oil re lowest acidity and peroxide levels showing extreme purity? Have you tasted it to see its quality? Have you tasted it for its silkiness/texture, flavour? Only good quality olive oils will pass the test of being very pleasant when sipped like a wine…and this one does.

    Please email me at

    I am passing your website on to the producer.


    • KristenM says

      Hi Dolores,

      I make absolutely no claims whatsoever as to the authenticity of Dauro oil. I used it’s picture because it was the best available one of pouring olive oil on Flickr under the creative commons license. I wanted a free picture of olive oil being poured; that’s what I found. If Dauro is a good oil, then good for them and you and anyone else who buys it!

      ~KristenM (AKA Food Renegade)

  48. says

    I have been buying this first cold pressed evoo bc i read it was the best. Well not only does it have no flavor… it also does not even pass the first test. and its a product of greece. my friends on facebook recommend using extra virgin coconut oil… but now i am wondering what information you can dig up on that. what is the best kind? Etc etc.

  49. Sierra says

    I find this a bit disheartening. Is anything untouched? I am so tired of being a paranoid shopper and every week I learn something new that I have to research and then find someone that I trust to make a good quality product! I don’t know what I’d do without your blog to keep me updated!

  50. Jacquie Kuck Wood via Facebook says

    You say to go to your site for a listing of “safe” brands of Olive Oil, but the site won’t open to that list, why not? I want to know which ones are real and which ones aren’t. Is this just a “glitch” on your site?

  51. says

    Jacquie Kuck Wood — If you have javascript disabled or an ad blocker running, it will interfere with the links on that page from showing up. So, to see them you’ll have to enable javascript or disable your ad blocker. Hope that helps! Really, any olive oil from a single farm or small co-op will almost always be legit.

  52. says

    I would NEVER trust Trader Joe’s. They refuse to list sources for their products. Their stores are full of GMO items. What irks me the most is that, because of their atmosphere, people think they can trust the food there to be wholesome, healthful food :/


  53. Brandi Lucas via Facebook says

    Anyone know about Spectrum EVOO? I haven’t been able to find anything online about the purity of that particular brand, but my google-fu may be off.

  54. Andrew G. says

    Thank you so much for posting about this! Immediatly after reading, I stuck both of my olives in the fridge. One was cheap Pompeian brand and the other was a “fancy” olive oil in a dark glass bottle that was imported from Europe. After a day in the cold, neither of them hardened up or even got cloudy.

    So as it turns out, I may have never eaten real olive oil, considering that the ones in my house are about 100% fake. Thanks again for getting the word out about this. It’s really disturbing, but I’m so glad I can stop eating fake oils.

  55. hridaya says

    Well my question is this, my EVOO says it has oil from 5 different countries. Wouldn’t that make the same brand label have different oil combinations inside, at different times of the year? Or are we going to assume they put exactly the same ratio of the same kind of oil from the same countries and gathered at the same time of the year inside those bottles? I’m going to assume that some brands are better than others at certain times of the year.

    The resources page on this site does not work for me on Chrome, I have to open it with Safari. All my java is working fine.

  56. says

    I stuck my Trader Joe’s Italian cold pressed 100% virgin olive oil in the fridge, and after a day it barely had any tiny clumps at all. Sooooo disappointed. I immediately bought the olive oil off your site. Hope to see a difference!

  57. Sage says

    Sorry, but how do we know wilderness naturals is ok? It looks like they get it from farmers on the coast overseas as well… how can we be 100% sure?

    • KristenM says

      Hi Sage,

      I responded to this in the comments above, but I’ll say it again. I vouch for the Wilderness Family Natural’s olive oil because I’m friends with Annette (the owner). She personally travels to the source of EVERY product she sells to verify its authenticity and to make sure it’s among the absolute best. The olive oil she sells comes from a small co-op of farms — not an international supplier.

      So, the same standard that we apply to selecting quality domestic olive oil applies to selecting quality international olive oil. We have to ask: did this come from a small farm or co-op of farms exclusive to a single valley or locale? If yes, then it’s almost always a safe bet.

      The corruption the industry happens when companies source their olive oil from international suppliers that collect and distribute oil from hundreds of farms.

      Since the WFN oil comes from a small, individual locale, and since I trust Annette to have verified the source, I trust the oil she sells.

      Hope that helps!

  58. Cory says

    This is illustrating a point I’ve been feeling for a while, which is, in order to eat really healthy and responsibly, we really have to eat in a way that our local ecosystem facilitates. It means those of us who live somewhere olives can’t grow wouldn’t get olive oil. And unless you live in the tropics, no ever-so-healthy tropical fruit. Within reason – there have always been trade routes. And it gets really tough when you realize not every area is suitable for farming…anyone out there ready to become nomadic again? Follow the buffalo? Please?

    I’m not being sarcastic. Just expressing a (pipe) dream of mine. Perfection is unattainable. I’ve resigned myself to just trying to move in the right direction as much as we can, and hope there’s still something left for our children…

    • Susie says

      I’m with you. I’m in a Cultural Anthropology class and in the middle of a project using John Ikerd’s article,”The New American Food System”. It doesn’t specifically speak about “seasonable eating”, but how we have become disconnected from our food sources. I urge you to seek out his article and see what you think. I don’t believe it is a “pipe” dream you have, but something that could really happen and perhaps is somewhat already.

  59. Shannon says

    WHAT?! I put my Kirkland (Costco) Filippo Berio Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the fridge and it’s clear as day, and liquid as can be. It’s FAKE?!?!?!?!?

  60. Cathy says

    How depressing, but I’m grateful to you for sharing this info. I’m going to attempt to find a legit olive oil at my local grocery store. I will post my findings and if I find any that appear to fall under the criteria you specified, otherwise I will buy from WFN.

    • Cathy says

      Ok, SO, there were about two or three options I found at my local Martin’s Foods. There was California Olive Ranch, their Arbequina, Arbosana and Miller’s Blend. All three have been COOC certified for 2012. They all cost about $12.60 for just under 12 oz. I ended up buying the Bionaturae brand of Organic EVOO. They had a blurb on the back stating that they are involved in the entire process, have strict standards and get their oil from a select group of small family farms in Italy. 12 oz for organic EVOO for $11.99. Also, I really like the sound of Chaffin Family Farms. They have a good deal on a gallon of EVOO, $72/gallon. I think it comes out to roughly $7 per 12 ounces. A great economical buy but I can’t afford that right now as an upfront investment.

    • Lisa says

      But what make you think “Bionaturae” is any better or even legit for that matter? Because ‘they’ say so? Who’s ‘they’ – four italians and an american? Apparently no ‘real’ human being is affiliated with this company. There’s no actual info about this company other than what their pared-down website provides. Their products could be produced in Dallas, TX for all we REALLY know; and everyone’s just ‘buying’ it (their products AND THEIR STORY) for some reason. Weird.

  61. Margaret says

    Ugh, I kinda figured that had to be the case when olive oil tasted nothing like the small bottles we used to get from our neighbors, no matter how much I spent on it.

    I heard somewhere in all the controversy that walnut oil has almost the exact same fatty acid profile, and therefore it gets used a lot to fake people out. I wonder if it has the same benefits, and if it does, how much it costs. It might be worthwhile to buy guaranteed walnut oil, instead of guessing at oil olive.


  62. Hari says

    Buy American.

    I’ve started buying only Californian Olive Oil. In the fridge it gets solid as a rock…I know it’s the real stuff because it’s having the same slimming effect that authentic Olive oil used to give me.

  63. says

    I really enjoy your blog and your writing! I also have been researching the whole olive oil debacle as I’m wanting to ingest only the real thing sans genetically modified additives!

    Fueling my passion right now is the whole labeling GMO controversy…which shouldn’t be a controversy at all. That is what I blog about. Keep up the great work!

  64. says

    I read the 2010 study from UC Davis, and it showed that Kirkland’s (Costco brand) of “Organic” Extra Virgin Olive Oil had the third lowest amount of polyphenols (mostly natural, but with some synthetic or semi-synthetic) organic chemicals. And their brand was about half the price as the Bertolli brnad, and much better.

  65. Valerie Harrell says

    I will not buy or eat anything grown in Bakersfield, CA or Arizona!!! Those are hyper-endemic areas for Valley Fever / coccidioIdomycosis!!!! Valley Fever is an infection that occurs when the spores of the fungus Coccidioides immitis enter your body through the lungs. Kern County (Bakersfield) is the most heavily endemic area in California. It is a fungus in the soil.

    America’s endemic areas are located in Arizona, California, Texas, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. There are also endemic areas outside the United States in Mexico, Central America, and South America. When the soil is disturbed these spores can become airborne and inhaled, sometimes hundreds of miles away from their original place of growth.

    Read for yourselves:

    I might buy from northern CA where the area is not dry. There has to be other states besides the ones listed above that are safe. My fiancé nearly died from Valley Fever & the CA Dept of public health told us they cannot afford to run a Valley Fever awareness campaign because they depend on tourism & residents moving here.

    If some one here knows of another state where I can purchase real olive oil PLEASE let me know!!! I swear nothing is safe anymore!! Thank you.

    • Maiysa says

      Valerie, so sorry about your fiance. I battled Valley Fever for a few years and nearly died as well. I have never been the same. I worked as an aesthetician and unfortunately don’t ever see that happening for me since now I can’t handle any type of smell or physical labor. Anyhow, I’m with you. I’m so afraid if anything has those spores on it. But I do soak most of my veges and fruits in lemon juice and vinegar and rinse thoroughly. I wonder if during the process of making the oil that the fungus is probably not active. I know it can travel long distance as well. But have not heard of it being in the oil. It can be on the olive itself, but that is something to think about.

  66. Sandra Mullins says

    I have joined the most wonderful Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. They send you 3 bottles every 3-4 months. It is the best tasting oils I have ever eaten. You can look them up on the Internet if you like. They send you the first bottle free.

  67. Amy Galland says

    i searched high and low for a supplier that met all my criteria and wanted to share the following very informative email I received from Berkeley Olive Grove in response to my inquiry regarding their shipping methods. The oil is incredible, I had no idea what real EVOO was suppose to be like… this farm knows and loves their business! (and in my humble opinion, deserves ours):

    From Berkeley Olive Grove:

    Following our truncated conversation earlier today, first I’ll mention that your order was shipped this afternoon.

    Berkeley Olive Grove is 100% certified organic and sustainably dry-farmed (rain-irrigated). Some people give value to these practices. Our trees are all Mission, the California heirloom variety and one particularly high in polyphenols (antioxidants).

    I feel it is good to find on the label of a dark glass extra virgin olive oil the oleic free acidity (ofter simply “acidity”). International allowance is 0.08% and the California Olive Oil Council allowance is a stricter 0.05%–both too high. This is a measure of free radicals, essentially, and should be as low as possible. Through our history our olive oils have ranged between 0.05% (lowest readable) and 0.14%. I would look for less than 0.2% on the labels you read. The other value of importance and which should be presented is the polyphenol value.

    You can go to the UC Davis Olive Center site to see their reports. You will find something in the vicinity of 70% of labelled “extra virgin” olive oils, principally originating in Europe, failed to be truly extra virgin at time of testing. On the positive side, you will be able to see the results of each specific olive oil brand tested and, very importantly, polyphenol values.

    Polyphenols are antioxidants (healthful) and can range very greatly between varieties of olive and production/milling techniques. All mechanized super-high density olive oils tend to be very low (80-100), compared to the average true extra virgin olive oil of about 220 ppm. Berkeley Olive Grove 1913’s highest this year is 495.

    Smoking point (at which the oil breaks down) of a low polyphenol might be +/- 370 degrees F, while the smoking point of a high polyphenol olive oil is closer to +/- 400 degrees F. Cooking foods at lower temperatures likely preserves more nutritional value, therefore. And using the highest polyphenol olive oil for cooking (at <400 degrees F) best preserves the cooked food's nutritional value with a fresh and raw cooking oil. THEN finishing with a fresh and raw (alive enzymes) extra virgin olive oil both enhances the flavor and desirability of the food and offers to the body the greatest possible benefit of the fresh, raw, healthful food that is high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil. [Please note that these statements are my opinions rather than a statement of definite fact or governmental official statements.]

    The question of using an extracted oil is a personal consideration. If a cooking oil is to be used, I can think of nothing better than a fresh and raw EVOO. Other modes of cooking than frying can be considered, the lower the temperature the better. I believe ultimate cooking temperature is a significant consideration regarding ultimate value of the food to the body. I also believe anything beyond all fresh, uncooked food intake ought to consider fresh, raw, alive enzyme foods as important.

    Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 organic EVOOs are shipped at the fastest feasible transit rate and packed carefully for protection, also avoiding likely transit layover days (weekends or holidays). When using U.S. Postal Service, we always use Priority mail for fastest times. Our olive oils are always stored at low temperatures until shipment.

    If you have further questions beyond what I have covered here, please feel free to contact us.



    On Jan 31, 2013, at 5:13 AM, Amy Galland wrote:


    I just searched and searched to find a source for organic, cold pressed, virgin olive oil sold in dark bottles and grown and processed domestically and was so happy to find you. I bought one bottle to start but now realize I did not even check on how shipping is done :(

    Its probably obvious that I have been reading a lot lately about the fragility of olive oil and the importance of it staying cool and dark. How are your products kept cool during shipping? I realize this is a bigger issue in the summer months.

    Amy Galland

  68. Kim says

    The olive oil I bought passed the fridge test, it got very thick and cloudy in there, but it’s not a fancy or expensive brand. What’s the likelihood of it being real?

    Also I saw a new brand of EVOO at Trader Joe’s made in California. Anyone have any experience with this brand? It comes in a tall dark bottle.

  69. says

    I’d heard something about this and it’s very interesting to get more of the story. Wow. You know, I can deal with “adulterated extra-virgin olive oils cut with low-grade, refined olive oil.” I mean, at least it’s olive oil, even if the quality isn’t what it’s claimed…but soybean or sunflower oil with chlorophyll added, that’s just scary!!!

  70. judy finch says

    My olive oil literally froze last winter, because my cupboard isnt insulated. I was told repeatedly that olive oil CANT freeze. HAH!

  71. murphy says

    I buy all my olive oil made from 100% California Olives. Temecula Olive Oil Company makes high quality olive oil products

  72. David says

    Try the Lucero Olive Oil.

    It’s a family farm in N. CA. I met the owner about how fanatical they were about freshness and quality. I bought a bottle at the Gilroy Garlic Festival where he presented. Let me tell you…it was kind of pricey but it was DAY & NIGHT difference than the stuff you get in the stores. WOW! You owe it to yourself to see what a real deal tastes like…at least once in your life. LOL.

  73. Lori says

    No wonder my Field Day Organic can’t keep my olive oil lamp wick lit! I kind of suspected the taste was off anyway but I thought maybe I just got last year’s oil. That get’s me to another point: How can you tell what year’s crop you have? I remember buying Aria brand from Crete at Fresh Market. That seemed a little better tasting but I will have to give it the olive oil lamp test and the fridge test too. I used to live in Greece. My in-laws owned some olive trees in my Father-in-laws native village. They used to take the olives to be pressed and the result would always be a dark green oil that was cloudy for a while. The “crud” would settle on the bottom. About 10 years ago here in the US I remember seeing some bottles with “crud” on the bottom at Kroger or at my natural foods co-op but none lately. By the way, from what I recall most Greek oil is picked by hand (possibly by a lot of Albanians besides Greeks!)and many other countries used machines to pick resulting in mixing the good olives with the bad and so an inferior oil.

  74. José Arato says

    Hi Kristen,

    I read your article and I find it true, but I do not find fair that you are using Dauro Olive oil as your main picture as this is a SUPERB HIGH QUALITY olive oil.

    I love Olive Oil and I find ethical just to mention you the beauty of this Olive Oil.

    I see you are not mention the Dauro in your article, but kind of implies it with the pic.

    If any time you find Dauro, I highly recommend you to try. It’s fantastic.

    Thanks :)


  75. Kim says

    Thank you for all the great information.

    I am wondering….

    1. How can you tell if your olive oil has gone rancid?

    2. How long does olive oil typically last once you open it?

    Thank you!

  76. says

    This is unreal. I feel like we can’t trust anybody in the food industry anymore. I am going to end up getting 90% of my food online. What is so ironic is that most Americans trust everything from the supermarket. Sad.

  77. Dutch says

    Uh, yeah. Just use coconut oil. Higher smoke point, better flavor, more protein, and pretty hard to fake. Why gamble with conmen for an inferior product when you can buy something better with no concern? Very interesting and insightful article, but one that begs an useless point. I knew 10 years ago that most ‘Olive oil’ was likely grapeseed oil. This scam has existed for decades. But the available alternatives are way better anyway, so I was over it years ago. Why is everyone so committed to olive oil when the facts say few of us have ever even actually had it? Think about it…

      • says

        Uh, yeah. Coconut oil comes in MANY different qualities also and IS many times adulterated. Why gamble? That is like saying why gamble on Grass fed beef or chicken, or wild caught seafood. “organic” fruits and vegetables….. Olive oil is no different than any other “food” product. It can be adulterated very easily, more so in America where most Americans do not know what real olive oil tastes like, but then again most Americans don’t know what real chicken tastes like either. Bottom line is, find the real stuff and it is amazing. People are committed to it because when they find it, they realize how amazing it really is. Think about it…..

  78. Heather says

    I buy Trader Joe’s Organic Spanish EVOO. I use it to make salad dressing so it’s always in the fridge and completely solidifies on top of the dressing.

  79. Kelsey says

    In simple terms, best to ask a few things to help assure you are actually getting quality, fresh extra virgin olive oil:
    1.Look for a ‘harvest date’ or a ‘best by’ date printed right on the label. It is a perishable fruit juice, and you wouldn’t buy orange juice past its prime, would you?
    2.If buying imported oil, where are the olives actually grown? There are some amazing olive oils all over the world. But some olive oils labeled “Italian” are often packed in Italy, but use olives grown in Tunisia, Greece, and Spain, among other countries. If olive oil is perishable, under what conditions were these olives grown and harvested? And given TIME is a major enemy of olive oil, what time is involved getting the oil from one country to the next, and then to the USA?
    3.LIGHT is also an enemy of olive oil. Choose an olive oil that is protected by green glass.
    4.Look for some sort of certification by a recognized entity. CA Olive Oil Council certification is awarded to CA producers who earn their stripes as ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’, exceeding the quality standards than the international community certification levels.
    5.Read the labels, ask your producers, and be informed.

    • says

      Thank you for the helpful information, especially the reference to the CA Olive Oil Council! I’d read this post awhile ago and have since been exclusively using olive oil I buy at our local farmers’ market, and recently bought a whole gallon of Verni’s extra virgin olive oil that is sold at “our” market.

      Well, I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t read this post carefully enough because I didn’t give the oil I bought the “refrigerator test” until AFTER I bought the entire gallon of it (we’d bought several small bottles of it before), so needless to say, I was quite annoyed to discover that it appears to be fake. It stayed the same colour and viscosity after an entire night in the fridge – just a little bit we had left over in a small bottle :( Needless to say, I’m going to be looking for another source, and one that is certified this time….

  80. Amanda says

    I learnt about this last year after visiting an olive grove where I was temporarily living. As part of the tour we were given a taste test of a couple of different olive oils. When I originally heard this I thought ‘drink olive oil? no way!’.

    I was completely surprised. The olive oil, which was locally grown and fresh, tasted awesome. It had a nice fruity smell and a peppery after taste.

    From what I learnt from this grower, I’ll never buy imported olive oil again. I used to be of the oppinion that olive oil tasted awful. Turns out I’d been using rancid olive oil from bad brands.

  81. Allison says

    One piece of information you can look for on an EVOO bottle that can give you some peace of mind is the FFA (free fatty acid) percentage. If it’s truly good EVOO, that percentage should be NO higher than 0.08%. 0.05% would be best. And although it’s not an absolute guarantee (b/c gov’t and its committees are often corrupt or can be bought), a seal or guarantee of quality by the IOOC can also indicate quality. The website has a good article on 7 things to look for when purchasing EVOO.

  82. S. says

    Ariston olive oil is the best. It is sold in liquor stores and supermarkets from a big huge vat of oil and you can reuse your bottles to refill for much cheaper. It’s first cold press and 100% real and unadulterated.

  83. diane says

    I’m so confused, my friend said to put it in the freezer. She said real olive oil will freeze, not fake oil. Well, my Walmart brand evoo froze solid.

  84. Rick Jenkins says

    Does anyone know if Borges is authentic EVOO?

    I used Filippo Berio for years but on a chart I read, only 1 of 3 samples was really EVOO, with the other 2 being just “virgin” (2 presses, whereas “extra virgin” is only the first press).

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t olive oil.

    Another way to know if it is EVOO is to taste it raw. Put some on your tongue for a should taste fruity and when you swallow it there should be a bitter or peppery taste in your throat.

    Filippo Berio always tasted fine to me as did Borges.

    Borges used to be cheap where I live but over the past few years I’ve seen Borges EVOO rise in price to be higher than Filippo Berio and Bertolli. It has the most fruity smell too and is made in Spain.

    I’ve read that Spanish olive oil is less likely to be fake (virgin instead of extra virgin).

  85. Juliette says

    Is buying ‘certified organic’ olive oil a way to make sure the olive oil is legitimate? Organic certification requires a lot of inspection, so it stands to reason that buying organic might help? What do you think, Food Renegade?

  86. Margaret Foster says

    Hi, I was wondering why you do not mention high quality olive oils made in the United States. California and many other states provide extra virgin olive oil.

    • says

      I think that’s covered by the part where I said, “Artisan and locally-produced olive oils (the variety you can find from domestic small family farms) have always passed every single test of authenticity. So, buy locally. Buy from a farmer you can get to know and trust, and you’ll be set.”

  87. Aloxis says

    therefore, you should buy spanish olive oil, which usually has much better quality than italian and with no doubt american, which is made from high intensity olive tree cultivation and is no good…

  88. says

    Kristen, Thanks again for all you do. I had no idea that this kind of alteration of olive oil goes on. I always suspected the low prices though. Will be doing the tests on my chosen oil to see if it passes. Thanks for the connection to real oil as well.

  89. says

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  90. says

    I only buy COOC (California Olive Oil Council) Certified. You can taste the amazing difference. Lucero Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Miller’s blend is my favorite! It lists the names of the olives they use too. You only get the health benefits if its the real deal.

  91. says

    I live in Italy. I’m actually reading Tom Mueller’s book at the moment. Very interesting and I’m feeling lucky to have oil from the father-in-law’s olive grove!!! Recently, we’ve been thinking about exporting good quality extra virgin olive oil to the US

  92. Barbara L Thanos via Facebook says

    I can’t afford the “real stuff” I guess. I saw that a 3L bottle costs 75 dollars…….guess I’m stuck with what I am purchasing, sadly.

  93. says

    I’m lucky to have a neighbor down the road that grows, processes and bottles their olive oil. First discovered them at local farmer’s market. Siena Farms of Modesto CA. They have mail-order. Each year they let people help harvest the olives. You get lunch and a gallon of the first press from the year’s harvest.

  94. says

    I recently turned my back on olive oil with the belief that something was very wrong with it. I know that vegetable oil, sunflower oil and Canola all gave me heartburn but believed that olive oil was healthy because of all the literature claiming it to be a health product. The conclusion I had come to was that the refining process of making olive oil virgin or extra virgin must remove all the vitamins and make it more difficult for the body to process. We made the switch to grass fed butter and my skin is healthier I haven’t had heartburn for months.

  95. Alberto says

    Hi guys,

    I just can’t help feeling depressed but at the same intrigued on what I the article says. I originally from Spain and this country has one of the highest quality extra-virgin olive oils in the world and but, in saying so, I have no doubt they all meet national standards and haven’t been adulterated.

    But then you say to yourself, if it happened in Italy, who tells me It’s not happening in Spain? The situation that unfolded in USA doesn’t come to a surprise to me, you just need to look at the statistics regarding the health and obesity of the American population and their addiction to junk food (McDonalds and KFC to start with) and how the authorities haven’t been taking any clear action of it.

    After moving to Australia again after 20 years, I just can’t but thank and even glorify this great nation I live, which I consider has one of the toughest food regulations worldwide.

    Overall, It’s a sad situation, and under covers how greed and money can turn an honest farmer into a criminal. I believe authorities should take action on the price our farmers are getting for their produce, whatever produce it is, and distribute the profits more evenly between producers (farmers) and the distributors, cut down or eliminate unnecessary intermediates and therefore making sure our farmers get the right return for their investments.

    Distributors are getting richer and farmers poorer, when it’s the farmer himself who takes the risk with his investments in extremely expensive machinery, who works hard in the field and who has to deal with changing weather. Farming is not a profitable enterprise anymore and triggers criminal activities like the ones we have just read.

    I could keep going but for the sake of not boring our readers, I’m going to stop here.

    Albert Ochoa

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